Tottenham are through to the semifinals of the FA Cup after beating battling Bolton 3-1, in a match that was originally abandoned after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack on the pitch 10 days ago.
When the NCAA men's basketball tournament takes center stage in about a month, we'll hear plenty usage of the term "blind résumé." It is a comparison method for decision-makers to look at the body of work for teams on the tournament-field bubble without being clouded by predetermined bias linked to a school's name or conference affiliation.
So much has been written to mark Sir Alex Ferguson's 25th anniversary as Manchester United manager that if he reaches 30 years in the job in 2016 we may have only awkward silence left with which to greet the big day. "Well done Sir Alex. Um ... please see 2011." My contribution to the effort to preserve a few superlatives for the occasion will be to throw Ferguson an admiring nod (he's not done a bad job, all told), and focus instead on a club down the road.
Roberto Mancini's cool reaction will only have made the defeat smart all the more. "Is this a great day for Manchester City?" he was asked. "It will be a great day when we win the Barclays Premier League," he said, having offered Sir Alex Ferguson his hand looking as fearful as the rest of us as to what the Manchester United manager might do with it after a 1-6 drubbing. "Now, we've only won one game." Which is true enough, but this was the kind of game, the kind of result, the kind of performance that encourages grand conclusions in the heat of the moment: David Silva is the finest player in the country; the title is already City's to lose; Rio Ferdinand is finished.
The international break is a time for contemplation and reflection in the domestic leagues. It's a chance for the owners of football clubs to pause and take stock of their season so far. Frankly, that's the last thing that three beleaguered managers at the wrong end of the Premier League need right now. Owen Coyle, Steve Kean and Steve Bruce are all just a couple of bad results away from spending considerably more time with their families.
Just before the 2008-09 season started, the Barclays Premier League launched its Get On With The Game initiative, designed to discourage "unacceptable behavior" from players and managers, usually directed at the officials. It had minimal impact (in fact, this might very well be the first you've heard of it), but given some of last season's dramas -- there were managers who made shrieking pantomime dames look like subtle artisans -- the scheme was revived last week. "There are always going to be incidents," said Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore last week, but he was "confident" that players, managers and referees were committed to improving relations/not behaving like infants.
It is that time of year again, when more than 34,000 minutes of Premier League action has to be mentally sifted for gems and the season's best performers picked. In some cases, statistics bear out your feeling that one player deserves recognition over another; in others, a less scientific cocktail of impact, awe and admiration sways the decision. Somewhat inevitably, many of the names below represent teams in the top five, but I've "shown my working out" in recognition of the quality of some of the candidates.
Thanksgiving: a time to ignore the number of calories in your dinner and count your blessings, instead. There's still a month to go before us Brits get stuck into the nation's turkey population, but if the people of Bolton were to celebrate thanksgiving, the speeches would go something like this: "Thank you for bringing us Owen Coyle."
With the opening of the European transfer window less than two months away, the United States' friendly against South Africa on Wednesday will be an excellent time for a few Americans stationed abroad to receive some much-needed exposure.
Like most things, reaction to Kevin Davies' England call-up for Tuesday's match against Montenegro is refracted by context. Before it happened, his absence from international consideration despite his pivotal contribution at Bolton Wanderers made him a popular pick on best-players-who've-never-represented-their-countries lists. When it happened, Davies himself -- 33 and thinking about his testimonial -- thought it was a windup. And after it happened, fans wondered whether to be pleased or perturbed by Fabio Capello's choice.
Wayne Rooney may finally have ended his drought, but his boyhood club can't buy a goal at the moment. Three games into the Premier League season, Everton has scored a single goal and notched a single point. That return amounts to the club's worst start since 1999, but the biggest worry for Everton is that it has been unable to convert possession, often in dangerous areas, into goals.
After all the hype and speculation surrounding a major transfer for Michael Bradley in the aftermath of the World Cup, the 23-year-old New Jersey native stayed put at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the Bundesliga club couldn't be happier to have him.
With a week left on the Premier League clock, thoughts are starting to turn to the wheeling and dealing that the coming months will bring. Fernando Torres' scowl from the stands at Anfield on Sunday, as he watched his teammates surrender to Chelsea's endeavor, suggested his agent's phone would be buzzing before the weekend was up. The order in which the top six or seven teams finish -- not to mention the World Cup -- will help shape this summer's wish lists, so for now let's consider how the last year's signings have made an impact -- or not.
Hats off to Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, who surprised everyone -- perhaps even Didier Drogba himself -- by leaving his leading goal scorer on the bench against Manchester United and fielding the same starting 11 that had demolished Aston Villa the week before.
Manchester United is running rampant. Last Saturday, the Red Devils demolished eighth-place Aston Villa 4-0 at Old Trafford and remain five points clear of Chelsea in the English Premier League race. The standard of United's soccer was so sublime, the score line actually flattered the losers.